I came across this article in The Guardian that points to a new study by a team from Manchester University and the London School of Economics called "The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge". In layman's terms, reading realistic (and accurate) stories about social issues are effective at giving the reader an understanding of the issue. The authors think this is a more successful delivery method than academic papers to spread widespread awareness of an issue. So, go ahead and pick up that novel ... it could lead to social change!
Justifying too much time spent in a book,